Accelerator Mass Spectrometry

The Center for Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (CAMS) operates a dedicated AMS system that is housed in an 8,000 square-foot facility. Currently, this system performs ~25,000 analyses per year for isotopes of 10 different elements, which makes it the most versatile and productive AMS system in the world. This system is particularly well suited for the precise analysis of carbon-14 (14C) in organic samples, which makes it amenable for the precise measurement of this isotope in bacterial samples.

AMS uses mass spectrometry and nuclear detection to directly measure the concentration of an isotope in a sample, eliminating inefficiencies from decay counting of radioisotopes. AMS uses two fundamental "tricks" to resolve isobars: molecular isobars dissociate by collisional charge-changing from negative ions to multiply-charged positive ions; and nuclear isobars are distinguished in particle detectors after mass and energy selection. The "accelerator" is required for AMS because the molecules to be broken, mainly hydrides and

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